By Shane McGinley
New developments in Riffa Views, Amwaj Islands gain on expatriate relocation, CBRE report says
Expatriate families in Bahrain are moving from previously popular areas to safer quieter neighbourhoods, in a bid to avoid the ongoing violence that has gripped the island state in recent weeks.
The latest Bahrain real estate report by consultants CB Richard Ellis, says that the expatriate areas that have been most impacted by the unrest in the island state are Saar and Budaiya in the north west, which were previously popular with upper-income expatriate families.
“Many expatriates, especially those with families, have found the recent problems, which were very audible in this area, to be deeply troubling, and as a result there is likely to be some movement to quieter locations not so visibly or audibly affected by political differences,” the report found.
The areas that have benefited the most from this migration of expatriate families have been new developments in Riffa Views and Amwaj Islands.
“Both areas remained untroubled during the crisis and there has been a noticeable pick-up in rental demand in both locations during the first quarter,” the report added.
For those looking for apartments in Bahrain, the report found that increased supply, coupled with the ongoing political situation, has seen rental levels continue to decline.
The report highlighted the fact that “the sheer volume of new privately held apartment units that have entered the market in the last two years, continues to exert downward pressure on rental rates in this particular sector especially in central Manama and Juffair.”
Bahrain declared martial law on March 15 after troops from Saudi Arabia and the UAE arrived to help quell protests that have gripped the Gulf state for more than a month.
The army on March 19 demolished the 300ft monument on the Pearl Roundabout in Manama, which had become a focal point for protesters.
In a bid to placate demonstrators, the government has announced that social and affordable housing are to become a priority and the cabinet has announced plans to build 50,000 social housing units over a five year period at a cost of BD2.5 billion ($6.63bnbn).
However, the CBRE report was somewhat skeptical and believed the government “does not have the resources to meet the housing demands of a rapidly growing, relatively low-income population of nationals.” It pointed out that the waiting list for social housing is already well above 50,000 and some Bahrainis have been waiting for 17 years for a home.
Other reforms announced by the government to appease protestors include a payout of BD1,000 ($2,652) per family, reshuffling of cabinet ministers and the creation of 20,000 new jobs.
Earlier this month, Bahrain's prime minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa said life was returning to normal after weeks of protests. "All signs confirm that security, which has always characterised Bahrain, is returning and life is going back to normal after attempts by some people to destabilise the nation," he said in comments published by state news agency BNA.
Moving forward, the Bahrain’s government remained confident that the economy will still achieve the 4.5 percent growth projected for 2011.